Displaying maps in your home has always been a thing. But it’s usually just generic world maps, or perhaps a vintage one of the British Isles or a country you lived or travelled in. It’s very rarely a map of your own little slice of country that makes it up on your wall, and I think that’s a shame.
When we first bought our house we pored over vintage maps trying to figure out when it was built (it first appears on OS Maps in the 1850s), and I realised these old maps were great for getting to know the local area and figuring out some lovely dog walks. And did I mention they are really quite attractive, handdrawn in black and white?
I hadn’t really thought of framing them though until I saw this spectacular display in the house of architect and designer Ben Pentreath of a 1746 plan of London by John Roque:
What a statement! It took Ben years to source one of the few versions of this map in circulation to make this amazing display. The good news is that you can recreate a version of this yourself on a more modest scale (or on any size scale you like if you know a good printer) very easily and cheaply. It’s so simple it really doesn’t warrant a proper tutorial! The (perhaps) even better news is that if you live in London, Pentreath & Hall in Bloomsbury have done all the hard work for you and sourced a reproduction of this stunning map which you can frame yourself.
How to Make a Framed Vintage Map Wall Display
To find old map prints of your local area, the National Library of Scotland has an amazing database from which you can save pdfs, but if you want large scale it will involve saving a number of pdfs and aligning them all properly. I took the easier route – I had a quick look in our local antique shop for an old OS Map, of which they had lots, and picked my favourite, which I bought for £2.50.
I then found some square frames on eBay that would be perfect for the map. I originally intended it to be 6 squares, but the map was slightly too small and I didn’t want to enlarge a copy because I like that the edges of the pages are a little scuffed and old – I thought that would be lost with an enlargement.
The frames were originally a nasty brassy colour, so I sprayed them with matt black spray paint (a task of ten minutes), and then used the glass of one frame to divide my map into four images that would piece together like a puzzle. I marked the edges with a pencil and carefully cut the map into four squares, and framed them. Make sure you hang them in the right order!
All in all, it took about half an hour to do, and I absolutely love the results. I still use it to plan dog walks, or even to get a vague idea of where I’m going if planning a trip to a nearby town (I still don’t quite trust satnavs!). So it’s functional as well as attractive, and it’s great when we have visitors who can see what surrounds us.
What do you think? Are you considering a framed vintage map display of your own area?
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